Huawei had a terrific year, they launched a lot of great products and ended the year with a bang with the launch of the P20 Pro. Unlike most flagship phones, it skipped Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 and shipped the devices with their in-house developed SoC, the Kirin 980.
The Kirin 980 was very competent, being one of the only two ARM-based mobile processors on 7nm this year, the other one being the A12 Bionic from Apple. Based off of reviews from credible sources, the 980 performed very well in day to day use cases, even going toe to toe with the Snapdragon 845 in synthetic benchmarks. Although February will see the launch of the Snapdragon 855 which might steal a lot of the thunder from the Kirin 980.
But it seems Huawei has countermeasures ready and according to a recent finding from MySmartPrice, we might see a new Kirin SoC soon.
Kirin 990 Might Be Coming Soon
The new chip will definitely bring some performance improvements, but 5G support might be one its main talking point. It will be on manufactured on 7nm FinFET like last year, so there won’t be any big architectural changes, sporting the 980’s similar triple cluster core setup.
The picture above is from a Huawei employee’s profile on Linkedln and it is clear from the points above that work on the Kirin 990 is underway.
First Device to Feature The Chip?
If we see a Q2 release, then it will definitely be featured in the upcoming P30 phones. Although its highly unlikely and the most probable date remains to be Q3 or Q4 in 2019.
We did see quite a few mid-range phones from Huawei get the flagship Kirin 980, most notably the Honor play. Huawei might pull off something similar and make the 990 chip available in a wider range of devices.
Although we are still years away from decent 5G coverage, device manufacturers are riding the bandwagon pretty hard. It is said that the Kirin 990 might come with the Balong 5000 5G modem. Like the upcoming Snapdragon 855, 5G support will require a separate modem and won’t be integrated on the SoC.